My friend Tom Watson wrote an interesting article in the May issue of Wisconsin Lawyer about the risks of social media. Tom and Kevin O’Keefe then engaged in some interesting debate followed by another blog posting and comments about those risks.
So who’s right? Do we need to worry about malpractice risks and ethics quandaries over our use of social media? Or should we jump into the deep end of the social media pool?
I’ll tell you a story about how I met my friend Lynne DeVenny. Lynne has established a name for herself as a social media leader, being “in the know” about all things paralegal related and she’s now branched out to blogging about workplace dress on a budget. I followed Lynne’s blog and tweets before I met her in person or heard her speak at a seminar. I was heading out of town for work when I called Lynne to introduce myself and invite her to meet me for coffee. We had a great evening chatting about our careers, paralegal issues and social media. A friendship was born. But really, when we met, it felt as though I were greeting an old friend.
I already knew what she looked like (before her new, sassy ‘do), what food she liked (chocolate and Pop-Tarts – those magical toaster pastries!) and what makes her crazy during the work day (you’ll have to read that for yourself in her blog, Practical Paralegalism). What is my point? Social media is a way for us to get to know one another. Social media is a way for us to build our professional profile. Social media is a way for us to develop relationships that can turn into business relationships, consulting relationships, referral relationships or friendships.
Are there any risks for lawyers using social media? My lawyer friends and my insurance colleagues see risk everywhere. So apply some risk management advice. Avoid establishing inadvertent client relationships. Don’t talk about your clients or talk to your clients via social media. Don’t engage in the unauthorized practice of law. But these risks exist when we go to ballgames or to church with people who ask questions and hope to get free legal advice.
So, now that you know the risks go ahead and make some friends on social media. Set up a Twitter account and share information that will benefit the public and educate your legal friends. Connect on LinkedIn and join us for a group discussion.
Tomorrow, we can go back to worrying about where the next boogeyman is hiding.